General Contractor Disappeared with My Money... Next Steps?

14 Replies

My GC disappeared two weeks ago. He'd been working daily on my first investment property for the last 3 1/2 months here in Tampa, FL and we'd built a very good relationship. Or so I thought. 

For the time being, I'll skip the gritty details, but I'd estimate he owes me roughly $17K in materials & work.

What are your recommendations for next steps? Is it necessary to file a police report? I was told by the police non-emergency number that this is a "civil, not criminal" issue. Obviously, I'll need a lawyer and file a claim of some sort...  could someone give me a rough outline of the next few months?

Ugh. What a mess.


Is he a licensed contractor?  If so you should contact the local license authority.

Do you have his home address?  

Do you have proof that would hold up in court that he has "run off" with your money?  

Did you have a contract?

Do you know any other jobs he's working on?

Too late now, but how in the world did you allow him to get that far ahead?

Do you have any very large biker friends that might just want to "talk to him"?

@Bob B.

I don't know why I didn't think of it earlier. I know good attorney that might be able to help you out. I'll text you his contact info.

that general,....first you file suit on him, that you/someone/ serves him, than you get judgement at your court day, than you go through the collections process.....which is a process unto itself.

@Mark J.

 What will cost more, the $17k in materials and labor or your time chasing him in court? I probably know the answer, but you will still need to move forward to get that house performing. Does he have a business location or does he work out of his house? Do you need someone to stand on his doorstep with you while you "reason" with him?

@Mark J.

Once you have things settled as much as they are going to be don't forget to let us know his name so we can spread the word to never use him.  I know this doesn't help recover anything for you, but he shouldn't be allowed to do this to anyone else.  

Please keep us updated on how you handle this and the outcome.  

Don't forget to submit a complaint to the Better Business Buro (can be done online.) They then contact him directly and force him to respond. If he doesn't, his BBB rating tanks. Contacting Angie's List might have a similar impact.

Check with the state. They may have some ideas how to resolve the problem. If he simply took the money and ran, it may be difficult to recover anything from him. Is it possible he had any insurance or bond that you could file against? It might be possible he gets his license revoked, and that might convince him to make good or refund your money.

@Mark J. I'm sorry to hear that, is he a licensed GC?  Do you have an actual contract with him?  Someone a while ago (probably on one of the podcasts) said that he takes a photo copy of every sub's drivers license.

If he's licensed and bonded, go to the license board and hopefully the bond will cover it. If not, than try to get ahold of him, if that' doesn't work, it's probably time for an attorney.

Go to in Florida to file a complaint. Do not let this go. Make sure you send him a return receipt letter demanding your money/materials or that he finish the job. File with BBB as well.

Hi Mark,

Just joined the list and saw your post.    Have you had any resolution on this?  I am also in Tampa and feel it is a good idea to reveal the person's name.     I deal with a large team of people and many, many contractors.  Please stop these people in their tracks.   They cost everyone money and should be prevent from preying on others.  

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I had the same thing happen in MD. As some have posted, if he is licensed and bonded you can go to FLORIDA's licensing board and file an official complaint. In MD, the bond amount is a max of 20K . It's worth doing...

So many stories like this, it's a shame. I know there are reliable companies out there but its tough to find them and when you do, they are worth their weight in gold.

My best to you


I just found this thread and was curious how it worked out for you.  While it is true that this is probably a civil rather than criminal matter, Florida has a pretty heavy duty civil theft statute that has treble damages language.  There is also a very aggressive licensing board in Florida for contractors.  I'm filling out a mountain of paperwork right now to get my Florida CGC, having just spent 18 hours in testing....  They take it seriously in this state, more than I've seen in others.


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